How female fellows fared at the Royal Society: Archive study shows that formal inclusion of women does not automatically lead to their full participation, say Aileen Fyfe and Camilla Mørk Røstvik

Aileen Fyfe, Camilla Mork Rostvik

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In 1665, the first issue of the world’s longest-running scientific journal appeared: Philosophical Transactions. It was not until 1787 that astronomer Caroline Herschel became the first woman to publish a paper in it1.

From its beginnings, the journal was tightly linked with the gentlemanly culture of the Royal Society in London2. By the 1940s, about 4% of all papers submitted to the Royal Society’s journals had a female scientist as an author or co-author3. Yet editorial responsibilities were restricted to scientists who were fellows of the society. So women’s involvement in editorial and reviewing roles at the society did not begin until 1945, when the first women were elected as fellows: crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale and biochemist Marjory Stephenson4 (see ‘Women at the Royal Society’). By 1955, numbers had increased to 10 women — compared with 556 men5,6.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-161
Number of pages3
Issue number7695
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2018


  • gender
  • Royal Society
  • academic publishing
  • Scientific journals

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